Ottawa, ON – “National Aboriginal Day is a time for all Canadians to recognize the unique history, cultural diversity and remarkable contributions that First Nations, Inuit and Métis, continue to make to our country.
We know that historical issues such as colonization, assimilation policies, and the legacy of residential schools have all damaged the vital cultural structures and traditions of Aboriginal peoples. These issues have created a significant disconnect between First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and the rest of Canada, which, in turn, has contributed to poorer mental health outcomes.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) recognizes the distinct mental wellness needs of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, and acknowledges the unique circumstances, rights, and cultures of Indigenous peoples. The experiences of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in Canada over the past several hundred years have been marked by consistent colonial intervention aimed at assimilation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has qualified these assimilationist policies as tantamount to cultural genocide.
The MHCC is committed to a process of reconciliation and learning that positions us to walk alongside communities who are leading efforts to address their mental wellness needs. We recognize that the Métis people have not yet engaged in a process of reconciliation and we are committed to working in partnership with the Métis National Council as the process unfolds. The MHCC is taking measures to build cultural competence, and is dedicating resources to sustained and meaningful engagement with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.
Strong relationships of trust and mutual respect between the MHCC and First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments, organizations, professionals, scholars, and communities will support the MHCC’s ability to serve as an ally the process of closing gaps in services, sharing knowledge about approaches to mental wellness, increasing community capacity, and strengthening collaborative relationships.
Today, on this National Aboriginal Day, let us all re-commit ourselves to continuing this strong and positive momentum in our relationship.”
ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA
Guided by Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is a catalyst for improving the mental health system and changing the attitudes and behaviours of Canadians around mental health – at home, work, and school, as well as with the media and healthcare providers – from coast to coast to coast. Through its unique mandate from Health Canada, the Commission is Canada’s coordinating agent, bringing together the best and most influential minds in the mental health community. The MHCC is collaborating with hundreds of partners towards a mental health system that is inclusive, adaptable, and supports Canadians living with mental health problems and mental illnesses in their recovery journey. Together we accelerate change needed to transform Canada’s mental health system and the wellbeing of all.
www.mentalhealthcommission.ca | strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca
Patti Robson, Director of Marketing and Communications
Mental Health Commission of Canada